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Custom vs. Canned Tunes

A question that comes up a lot on Facebook groups and forums is regarding custom tuning vs canned tuning. If you have already installed aftermarket injectors this does not apply to you and you will need custom tunes regardless for them to run properly. So, this review is adresses the 90 percent of people running stock injectors. I got in contact with Dusty Hogate, VP of 1023 Diesel Tuning, and together we dug into the differences between their custom tunes and PHP canned tunes, which come with the hydra tuner. After speaking with him it was obvious to me that he was very knowledgeable and passionate about tuning diesel engines from 7.3’s Powerstroke’s (their main focus) all the way to Cummins and Duramax. With some advice from Dusty, I went ahead and ordered some 1023 custom tunes for my stock injectors. I ordered a tow/eco, medium tow, heavy tow, street shredder, and the Cummins killer tune. I will be comparing these tunes against the equivalent PHP tunes to decide if the extra money for the custom tunes is really worth the performance.
Before I go any further I’ll go over what I have done to my truck. Each customized truck is different and therefore results will be slightly different depending on your specific modifications. I have a 99.5 super duty ext. cab, short bed, with a 4.5in lift, and 35in tires. Under the hood, I have a S&B intake, 38R turbo, International uppipes, ebpv delete, 4in exhaust, riffraff’s FRx and HPx, hutch mod, and other miscellaneous odds and ends (which shouldn’t affect much). All this is running in sync with a ZF6 transmission with a Southbend clutch rated for 425HP. This means that there will be no input on how the transmission tuning is different, and is purely a review on how the tunes run the engine. I will be looking at data such as egt, icp, duty cycles, fuel mileage, drivability, and overall power output. Additionally I will note how much smoke output occurs from different tunes.
No, on to the fun stuff! Let’s compare these tunes head to head and see if there really is any notable difference between them. After receiving the tunes quickly via email, I excitedly went out to truck and loaded them onto my hydra tuner. The first drive with the tunes, I stuck my hydra into the PHP 60 tow tune, this is the closest to 1023’s Tow/eco tune I could find, and to be honest I couldn’t feel a notable difference between it and the stock. On a truck with different shift points there may be a difference, however, this doesn’t apply to my situation. I did notice though, that spectrum 1023’s tunes did seem to actually liven up the throttle a bit, and gives slightly cooler EGT’s cruising down the street. The throttle response is a nice bonus when towing things, since it can help get the truck moving and start the boost a little sooner. Both tunes have zero black smoke output even at full throttle, which is a bonus for a DD tune. The other two tow tunes were pretty similar to PHP, I can't tell much of a difference here due to not having shift points altered.
Getting into the rest of the tunes. My first thought on the street shredder tune was “wow”. I thought I would be comparing this one against PHP’s 100HP tune but after experiencing it, I would compare it to the 120HP tune. And let me tell you, it blows it away in overall feel of the truck! The truck no longer feels like a 19-year-old turtle, and I was very surprised in the overall difference of these tunes. Both the tunes are similar in smoke output until you get into the boost and that is where the street shredder tune tends to clear up a little better than PHP’s. On this tune I didn’t get above 1200 EGT, even while holding full throttle through all the gears, reaching about 26 PSI. Cruising 75 down the freeway I see about 650-700 degrees’ vs 800-900 on PHP’s tune. One thing I definitely notice is the duty cycle goes significantly up in the higher tune, and the split shots call for more oil to empty them. The stock HPOP made 2800-2900 PSI just fine. I also got the best mileage on this tune while cruising at highway speeds. This tune definitely turned out to be my favorite, and I will now keep my hydra set to daily.
Finally, the Cummins Killer. This one is matched up against PHP’s 140HP tune, is easily more responsive than the standard 140 tune. It smokes about the same, and will really smoke if you lug the engine. My EGT’s never went over 1200, even while getting on it on the freeway. Although, they did shoot up to 1200 pretty fast. This tune is absolutely the quickest and most responsive tune I have driven on. However, it is a little smokey for me to be daily driving on. Overall this tune does exactly what it is called. It is meant for going all out and pushing your truck as far as possible with stock injectors.
So, what is my conclusion after driving on all these tunes over the last week? I have had the hydra and PHP’s tunes for well over a year now, I have had zero complaints with any of them. They have a tune for every situation and meets the needs of me and my 7.3. Now after finally testing some custom tunes out, I believe that they have a smoother all around drive feel, and a much quicker feeling in almost every tune comparatively. They accomplish all this while still holding similar EGT’s and similar parameters throughout the engine. It feels to have more power in each gear no matter where in the gear you are. I feel if you’re either not looking to step up to bigger aftermarket injectors or just not ready to do so, this is worth every penny to go ahead and get these custom tunes. These tunes will ensure the highest safety of the engine along with smoothest drivability compared to a live tuning session. With these custom tunes, you receive support from 1023 Diesel. If you do not like anything about what you recieve just email them and they will adjust any parameter needed to fix a problem you may be having.

Premium Member
2,390 Posts
Glad you like your tunes. Custom and canned tunes are relatively the same thing... having said that, the custom tunes you received are now canned tunes - they are your tuna you purchased!

Custom tuning is always best and I always harp getting custom tunes for your stock Injectors - why not?! As you’ve experience yourself, your custom tunes shines above the canned tunes php has. Don’t doubt it though, php tunes are just as safe.

Good long read! 1023 is a good tuner!

~Don’t overthink something simple~
...:uptight people suck:...
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